Is it Cheaper to Build or Buy a New PC?

Article Index

1. Introduction and Goals

2. Choosing and Finding Computer Parts

3. Budgeting and Shopping for Computer Parts

4. Comparing Dell's Price to Build Price





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Is it Cheaper to Build or Buy a New PC?
A quest for the "perfect workhorse computer"

Page 3

Budgeting and Shopping for Computer Parts

Now that I've come up with a parts list lets see what my system is estimated to cost. After all, there's no sense in looking for a system that I can't afford.

The State of the Budget

Intel Pentium 4 2.4 GHz for 533 MHz Bus Retail Box $210
2 sticks of 333 MHz DDR RAM $210
Intel D845PESV Motherboard $180
NVidia GeForce 4 TI 4200 $160
Subtotal $760

($10 shipping added to all parts)

So right now I need to spend around $760 just to get the core components of my system.

Budget for the Remaining Parts

Next I had to budget for the remaining parts.

Computer Case $90
Logitech cordless mouse and keyboard $70
Hard Drive 40 GB ATA 100 or 133 $70
Floppy drive $20
40X CD-RW $50
Speakers with Subwoofer $35
Motherboard Integrated Sound $0
Motherboard Integrated LAN $0
Logitech joystick $35
Total $370

($10 shipping added to all parts)

Notice I did not add anything for a sound card nor a LAN card. These are integrated on the motherboard.
I find most motherboards today have very good stereo sound chips which is adequate for my computer sound needs, of course, if you want the latest and greatest sound card you could always add it in.

Estimated Total System Price $1,130

I'm about 13% over my original budget goal of $1000, but I'm willing to spend the extra money to get what I want.
The next step was to visit Intel's web site to make sure I knew the specific requirements of what I was trying to build.

Verifying System Requirements

Before setting out on my part hunt, I consulted Intel's Build Your Own PC page to make sure I understood the specs of what I would need.
(If you want to build or upgrade an AMD system I suggest you visit AMD's System Configuration Information page.)

I did pick up some valuable tips including:

1. To use 333 MHz DDR RAM you have to use the 533 MHz system bus.

2. Per Intel, "Pentium® 4 processor-based PCs should use either ATX12V or SFX12V power supplies. Failure to use the correct power supply, may result in damage to the motherboard and/or power supply."

3. Boxed Pentium 4 processors are usually shipped with a high-quality variable speed fan that increases speed based on temperature.

4. Intel has a new bus driver called the Intel Application Accelerator for Intel chipset motherboards. It may require downloading of the Intel® Chipset Software Installation Utility before it can be installed.

Once I was comfortable with what I needed it was time to go shopping.

Shopping for Parts

I started out looking for the new Intel D845PESV motherboard. The motherboards and new chipsets were announced on October 8, 2002 however, try as I might, I couldn't find an online retailer or local computer shop selling the boards on October 9th.

So now I was stuck. I couldn't find the motherboard I wanted, so I either had to once again choose another motherboard, or wait a week or two for the new Intel boards to start trickling out to retailers.

While I was trying to figure out what to do next, I decided to stop by Dell's web site to see how much it would cost to buy my perfect system.

Next Comparing Dell's Price to Build Price >>

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